Light and Laughter and Dark Days Ahead

Well I do LOVE a good conference.  I nipped out of the Oxford EV summit a bit before the end, as I am jetlagged and needed some alone time.  Alone time does not last long for me. I only lasted a few moments with my headphones on, trying to keep myself to myself, then I joined a table of locals and kicked off a round of 20 questions (anyone who knows me has probably been subjected to this ice-breaker on absolute steroids, at some point in our relationship).  

What a great couple of days though! There was a stellar line up speakers and delegates. Feather in my cap was getting an interview with the CEO of Mahindra. A spectacularly humble and gentile man named Mahesh and his incredible, approachable, warm, and intelligent assistant Ronak. Blown. Away. I may have scared them both a bit with my gushy enthusiasm. Then this morning I was honoured with the presence of the event coordinator Ade. An incredibly understated and buttoned up fellow, who actually didn’t seem even remotely scared of me. I think the fact his dear friend and colleague James spent an entire Saturday with my batshit crazy self in NZ, and even got to meet several of my friends that day, meant he was briefed on what to expect. Luckily, my reputation often proceeds me, and that helps save me the trouble of explaining that I have no filter, suffer no fools, take no prisoners, and swear like a sailor. Oh, and I am definitely a hugger. I always ask first, but odds are, I will hug you. It is what I do. I didn’t hug the Mahindra guys though. I have no idea why that would have been weird, but it totally would have, and the thought didn’t even cross my mind at the time, I was just star struck beyond belief. Really humble, and incredibly cool cats across the whole show. I’m quite decidedly smitten with Oxford now.

I am so fucking content right now.  Tired.  A bit frazzled because I’ve had to bounce out of what was shaping up to be a very rewarding collaboration, as only a few weeks in, all we seemed to do is fight.  I like a good fair fight, but not if nothing ever seems to get resolved.  So, I guess I will never successfully navigate a relationship with anyone equally as passionate or feisty as myself.  Romantically, professionally, socially, or generally.  It is just too much to have two incredibly intense people vying for… whatever it is, they are vying for I guess.  Luckily, almost nobody is as feisty or intense as I am, so I have high hopes for the majority of my future dealings with humanity.  

ANYWAY.

A consistent barrage of compliments and new friends and feeling incredibly connected to total strangers has been good medicine for a failed friendship. This is my last world tour this year. Someone may need to actually tether me to New Zealand or put a shock collar on me that is activated around a 5km radius perimeter of the airport. My Love of travel, and people, and strangers, and new friends, and new places, and seeing old friends and sneaking in a bit of romance (I am looking AH-mazing right now, and I am off the hook excited to be catching up with someone who is absolutely generous with their capacity appreciate that for a few days up in Scotland. YAY!).

I feel quite decidedly wonderful in my own skin right now.  And there’s something absolutely contagious about my joy and contentment.  I’ve gamified smiling at and connecting with strangers.  I give myself 10 points for eye contact and a shared smile, 50 for giving a sincere compliment to a complete stranger, 100 for a conversations that lasts long enough to introduce them to my blogs or podcasts, and 100 points for a new LinkedIn connection.  I’m clocking up well into the thousands of points well before noon lately.  I am on FIRE!

If I had a ten-pound note for every time I have heard “you really aren’t like anyone I have ever met” or “my you really are something!” in the last four days, well, I’d be able to finance an entire formula-E team with some change left over I suspect.  I’m walking on air, and clearly and completely in my element bopping around the globe, basically locked in some Disney-esque musical scene of sorts as I blow through people’s lives like a hurricane of hope, noise, and happy.  

Why to great mood?  Why am I grinning like an idiot and making friends literally everywhere I go?  How can anyone be so cheerful the face of what was unanimously agreed is a total cluster fuck that is the very real climate crisis?

I don’t know.  I suspect I’ve farewelled the final few fucks I gave about convention or pleasing people, and I now feel absolutely and inextricably linked to the ground swell of activists and agitators I am lucky enough to rub shoulders with.

There’s something incredibly empowering about coming to terms with the severity of the situation.  I met an insurance assessor big wig on my flight over, I have forgotten his name, as I have met literally hundreds of people since heading on my way from Auckland only a few short days ago.  He was a very nice fellow though.  Has a couple of young kids and a beautiful wife he dotes on them all.  Good, wholesome, funny, family man.  He was actually irritatingly likeable.  I asked him quite directly what it felt like to be at the helm of an industry that is almost certainly on the brink of collapse thanks to the fucking mess humanity made.  We laughed and laughed.  He did not deny or downplay the acuteness of the problems we are facing.  He was also very schooled in serious social injustices taking place across the ditch from our beautiful island nation of Aotearoa, in the “lucky country” Australia.  There is some dark shit going down there these days, as we bask in the warm glow of a tolerant, warm, and wonderful leader and a HUGE surge in sustainability and resilience planning in New Zealand.  Why did we both resort humour (dark as it was) instead of mournful shaking of our heads, wringing of our hands, and tut tut noises and sighs?  We belly laughed all the way to baggage claim instead.  I am wondering if perhaps I have finally gone completely around the bend, or maybe laughter really is the best medicine right now?

The world is a hot mess.  Literally, and figuratively.  This shit is getting real. I liken it to the way the surrealness of the Holocaust, and how it affected funny, dynamic, divine human beings came to life for me while I read Anne Frank’s diary.  The human face on the global situation is the anxiety and panic attacks of most of my peers when we do the numbers and realise where we are headed.  People are already being affected.  We already have climate change refugees.  Food security and economic collapse seem possible, perhaps probable, at this point.  I have no idea what we are going to do.  I feel absolutely honoured to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants who are going down scratching and biting alongside me.

So, my highly hypocritical and hyper wee self will jump onto a plane in the morning and pop over to NYC.  I can’t say what part of this trip I am most excited about! Presenting at the city council to let them know what is going on in NZ,  joining the consummate goddess Suki (who hosted a women’s retreat in the Dominican Republic alongside her dear friend Joanna earlier this year) at her event on the 1st, going to the suburbs with my host and friend Mark to meet his feisty mom, actually attending one of the Gaaaaayyyys in Spaaaaaace events, or seeing any number of my friends and heroes that are based in this magical city. I will be on a rooftop, walk barefoot through the grass in central park and hug the stuffing out of several dozen people.  

Every moment seems to be a gift right now.  I have no time to dwell on the antics of self-sabotaging dipshits that I have to deal with.  Everything is magical, and I am noticing and embracing moments more than I think I ever have in my life before.  

My right-hand goddess is smashing it like a total baller back home at the helm, and my kids and husband, ex husband?  The kids and Phteven, are never far from my thoughts and I am missing them all more than I can remember ever missing them when I am globe-trotting.  They’re also all happier than they have been in a long while lately.  There’s a light that has descended on us, and I can’t place my finger on what lit it, but I am thoroughly enjoying the warm glow.

I am not happy that we are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun right now.  I am not overly hopeful for humanity, yet there’s something I have to call cosmic stirring. We are going to be okay if we take care of each other and we plan and we ready ourselves.  I don’t know what okay looks like, but there is a calm that has settled as we steel ourselves in readiness for a very uncertain future.

And in the meantime, before shit gets real, I hope I get a chance to laugh with you IRL soon. 

Thank you for reading.

XXOO

Accountability and Fragility

Accountability. It can make us feel very fragile sometimes.

We are all shovelling shit, we are all battling demons, we are all trying to get through and find our place and our purpose.  Some people seem to have a kind of calm corrective way about them, and actively exhibit empathy alongside self-awareness.  These sorts of people are my heroes and my chosen tribe.  Not that there isn’t a place for the vast and varied masses who have a harder time dining with their own demons, or holding others accountable with grace.  

It is probably useful to say, even the people we admire, Love, respect and trust the most are still going to hurt or disappoint us, and we them.  Every one of us has their own faults and foibles.  I like faults and foibles.  The tapestries of tragedy and triumph that ties us each to our own trajectories is not only fascinating, it is a source of comfort and connection.  It is wonderful to know that we are not alone, and it is calming and connecting to share our demons in a safe and secure scenario over a hot cup of tea or a tipple or three.  

I ran into a friend of mine a few weeks back and the brief but beautiful catch up stuck with me.  She has a PhD, is inarguably goddess and consummate performing introvert. She gets shade and even solid hate from countless sources and sticks to her (well aligned to my own) convictions.  One of her very reasonable responses to hate is to be heavy on the block buttons across social media.  She’s has battened down the hatches in her personal life and keeps her most sacred inner circle to only 5 trusted humans.  That’s not to say she is dismissive or avoids others.  She always greets me with a knowing eye roll and sigh as we are often two very busy women whose ships pass in airports and random tech events.  There’s a shared understanding between us (and many of the other goddesses in my world) that we both haul around a hefty suitcase full of imposters syndrome and personal anguish that we shove down daily and keep carrying on with our Vaseline stage grins and public personalities.  Respect and affection for this woman run deep, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t on occasion been stone cold envious of her and had to check that shit at the door.  She is smarter, more educated, far more graceful, and I have to say undeniably more beautiful than I, but she is her and I am me, and we are both creatures of kindness and integrity.  The few times the green eyed monster bites me in the ass regarding her have made me feel like absolute shit, and the genuine joy I feel when I see her shine (as she does with alarming regularity) eclipses my insecure and envious demon in short order.

I chose the goddess Green Tara as she’s all about strength and kindness and overcoming adversity. All the Hindu Tara Goddesses are pretty fantastic, but she’s my favourite. Image is courtesy of http://www.buddhaweekly.com

Wait.  That story applies to more than one of the wonderful women I have seen in the weeks that have passed.  The constant stream of goddesses who cross my path and sit down for a coffee or a wine with me has been the foundation and strength that’s put my broken back together this year.  So, if you’ve taken the time to talk to me online or IRL lately, please know how much it means and how much I appreciate it.

#goals #lifegoals #goldengirls These women were goddesses to each other, bound by friendship and humour and Love.

This long winded introduction is leading me to a subject that I’m trying to broach in today’s meanderings.  

Accountability. Yeah, it can and does make us fragile. But it is a source of so much strength and respect as well.

Let’s first substantiate a truth that we all have to face and embrace at some point in our lives:

Life is messy and magical.  Amazingly beautiful moments come and go, and pain and grief that are one moment unimaginable come to us all.  Juggling family, friends, careers and passions invite chaos and confrontation as well as strength and satisfaction.  

We often do not have control over what happens to us, and we do not have control over what other’s think, feel or say.  The only thing we control is how we respond. Responding with passive aggression or contempt can be a knee-jerk reaction.  Taking a breath and reacting with kindness and empathy can take more self-control and thoughtfulness than we can muster at times.  We’d all benefit if we truly understood that when you throw mud you’re the one losing ground, or that hurt people are the people who hurt people, or kindness needs to be out go-to because other’s are quite likely fighting a hard battle we know nothing about.  Maintaining a moral high ground when faced with bullishness or biting may feel like a hollow defeat when you are in a position of power or feel an urge to “teach someone a lesson” but I assure you, in the long run, not being a jerk pays off.  

You have control of you.  

The law of attraction and the basic rules of energy and the universe mean we are all held accountable for our reactions, whether we own this or not.  

This week, I have been put firmly and fairly in my place by a dozen dear friends for passive aggression, mixed messages, or just being bossy or scrappy.  The most confronting, and then rewarding example of this was when I got all salty at a very dear and incredibly esteemed friend for leaving me hanging halfway through a conversation with him on DM.  There are three very real reasons I was confronted by this is abysmal behaviour:

  1. I do that to people ALL the FREAKING TIME without thinking.  It is a combination of being busy, easily distracted, and undeniably self-absorbed.
  2. He’s never been anything but honest, helpful, and kind to me.  Salty at times, yes, but definitely well earned on my part. I can be a royal and needy pain in most people’s ass at times.
  3. Instead of Occam’s razor (the simplest explanation – like maybe he got busy doing something) was totally ignored and I jumped straight to a dozen utterly ridiculous conclusions.

Turned out he was bedside with a friend in hospital. So, basically, in this particular case, I was being a complete asshole.  The reason this is relevant is the way he handled it.  Every time I have been a royal bitch or blown things out of proportion he’s reined me in with kindness and held me absolutely accountable for my behavior, no matter how embarrassed I am, and trust me when I say I am well versed in the language of shame.  He asks why I did the thing I did.  He asks what emotion was behind it.  He demands a sincere and thoughtful apology and then we talk about how and why I am going to behave differently in the future.  I was given the opportunity to step up as a friend and put together as small but incredibly witty and thoughtful care package that included: mixed nuts (because I can be super nutty) and salted dark chocolate (because he was quite rightly salty at me. He received my gift and apology with grace and now I have an opportunity to prove to this person who I admire and respect dearly that I can think before I blow up and let insecurity and fear steer me. I still feel sheepish, but I also want to react to everyone who treats me with respect and kindness, as firmly and fairly as he has done with me.  This is the same person who suggested I curb the swearing a bit as my words and narratives “paint a masterpiece” and then, when I drop a C-bomb into the mix I “splash white paint all over the canvas”.  

I’ve risen to giddy heights personally and professionally lately.  The three kids who live with me are settled and secure and seem to be thriving between the expected earthquakes and outbursts associated with being cantankerous teenagers and a willful pre-schooler.  Phteven (formerly Phteven my husband, currently Phteven my best friend and b’ness partner) seems to be happier than I have seen him in months, maybe years, and we are communicating and wishing for the absolute best for ourselves, our family, our business, and each other.  I’m dating up a storm (although sadly not landing any keepers above those who have been dear to my heart for many months or years already) and feeling rather pretty witty and wise as a single and strong woman.  And, probably, if not definitely, the most obvious cause for most of the magic I am basking in can be traced to one wonderful person.

I took on an EA named Hayley a few months ago.  I saw her toiling and volunteering for countless events and organisations, while raising a young family and running a farm. She wasn’t looking for a job, but every time we talked I trusted and respected her more and more.  I finally poached her from her busy schedule to support me a few short months ago.  She made me sign NDAs and contracts and has proven herself to be capable, honest, kind, and a cheerleader and friend as dear to me as the people closest to me and who I have known for decades.  Her acting as my gate keeper and guardian angel included an evening in Hamilton where we stopped for a drink with some old girlfriends, and the whole hipster bar was awash with males and very few women.  She literally had her eye on every man in that place, and responded with care and a cold and knowing “I’ve got my eye on you guy!” look at anyone there who spent too long looking in my direction.  She also culled a few of the less than perfect relationships I’ve been struggling with by simply stating “Dee darling, you simply don’t have time for that shit.” 

So, all this care and concern, and the support to do more than I ever could on my own kind of got me feeling a bit more cocky than accountable.  I need to own that, and be grateful for the gift of Hayley the guardian angel, rather than getting stompy and demanding at people I should be kind to.  Everything takes some adjustment, and I need to adjust to this and let my humility return as it may have taken its leave lately.

So yes.

None of us are perfect.  But the tough stuff definitely gets easier when we are honest and accountable, to ourselves first, and to others as a result.  Find friends who hold you to account with kindness. Know that you are going to do shitty things from time to time and don’t be afraid to dine with the demons that steered you in a dark direction.  If you choose to remain ignorant or deny your bad decisions, you’re destined to repeat less than ideal behaviours.  If you explore the pain or the impetus behind being an asshole from time to time, you might be able to slay the beast that brought you to that behaviour.  The really great bit about that kind of accountability, is that embracing and facing the darkness makes it more rewarding to appreciate and own the genuine rays of light you are responsible for too. You can do this without ego or arrogance, and it feels awfully good when you do.  As it should.

Thanks for reading.

For What It’s Worth

A glorious goddess friend of mine has a saying that finds a place in my story line every single day.  It’s simple, the saying goes:

Take what you want, but be prepared to pay.

The thing I really like about this phrase is the level of cosmic control it insinuates we have when we make decisions.  The good ones, and the bad.  The phrase, to me, also suggests that you should probably get some kind of a quote or send out a brief to save yourself getting a fucking huge bill for shit you didn’t actually want.  State your plan and purpose to the universe,  and be prepared to listen and act on the response the universe returns to you.  

Don’t.  

Ignore. 

The Universe.  

It also feels kinda empowering to think that we all have choices every day, and there will be outlays and dividends for every single action and reaction.  The really fucked up bit though, is basically nobody on earth actually understands how their investment portfolio is going to perform, and we don’t get to choose when or how we make deposits or withdrawals.  Well, there are times this isn’t true.  If you overindulge you will pay the next day quite often, and if you miss a chance to toil toward a goal, it’ll cost something as well.  It applies to food, as you can eat whatever you want, but if you want to stay svelt, you will need to hustle.  It applies to fucking people who get walked over, because if you use or mistreat people, that shit WILL bite you eventually.  It applies to hangovers, hang-ups, hopes, hurt, hearts, homes, health, and, well, it applies to every fucking aspect of our existence.  Some invoices are sent to us more clearly and quickly than others though. Even the laws of physics equate to cost and effort expended for results.  Nothing, not a single thing, will ever come without a price and a result. 

I’d like to take it a step further and also say, that investment yields dividends.  Not only economically, but with our health, our social circles, our learning, our spirituality.  All that good shit.  You put in the hard yards, you be the best you can be, admit when you fuck up, and try to make good choices for long enough, and shit will eventually fall into place and the road will rise up to meet you.  Even if it doesn’t feel that way when you’re trudging along watching assholes overtake you in some kind of proverbial plush rickshaw.  Those assholes are gonna have to pay for their smooth ride, and if they don’t have to goods to cover the bill, they’re gonna be in all kinds of karmic and metaphorical trouble.  But if you toil and hustle your way to the same destination, you can breathe easy and enjoy the view while that lazy mother fucker who seemed to overtake you while traveling the same road, is going to have to make good with their pound of flesh. 

That’s enough metaphor and meandering for this blog I think.

The message I am trying to convey is actually pretty simple.  Some refer to this as Karma or Dharma, cause and effect, providence, roundabouts, fortune, fate, but the overarching theme is that the universe is a huge and complicated place and we affect it as it affects us.  

There’s no manual or instructions available as we navigate through.  There are some widely observed rules and laws (of the physical world, relationships, society, art, nature, just about anything) that we’d be better to observe.  Quite often we do not.

Let me give you a personal example.  

I know, after four decades of pushing people away and trying to curb my crippling abandonment issues, that being a steaming hot pile of crazy can, and almost always does, scare other humans.  The laws of attraction, equity theory, and even just the fact that most well-adjusted people will only tolerate being sent mixed signals or stood up a couple of times before they cut their losses and give up. The real legendary kick ass people just call me up on it and stick around, but these people are rare and magical creatures. Do I still run away from people? You bet your ass I do.  The cost?  Breaks my heart into pieces.  Wait, that’s a weird one, because I don’t necessarily want to be a fuckwit… But I’m taking something. The action to be a fuckwit.  Okay, my point remains VALID!  I think… 

Anyway.

Knowing we do dumb shit and continuing to do it costs more if we carry on the course I think.  The universe and our tribe will send us signals that we need to change and if we don’t listen it will keep smacking us with the same lesson only harder. 

The same formula seems to work (to greater or lesser degrees) in good decisions and behaviors.  There are people who are packed full of patience and perspective who seem to be pummeled by life, and they choose the high ground in the face of all sorts of storms and shitty twists and turns.  They face it with grace and never play the victim or throw other people under the bus, and while it seems on the surface they are getting shit on, because, well, they are.  Yet, these people persevere with kindness and grace while less evolved creatures seek shortcuts and shit on those around them.  The people who are trying to be good people win in the long run.  They take what they wish, which is very little from others, and eventually they’re paid for patience.  Some, maybe most, religions are based on this premise I think.

Figuring out the formula, and knowing what a friendship, role, situation, or even a moment is worth and actively trying to NOT FUCK IT UP can mean short term strains for long term gains.  Instant gratification from false friends or unhealthy distractions can cost us dearly, but putting in the effort and being all the things you’d like to see reflected back to you pays off.

Well.  That’s my thinking on worth for today.  

Goddesses are Complex…

I’ve had glorious guests all week. This morning I was sat on my deck, coffee that was lovingly made for me in hand. One of the many Goddesses I have met in EV circles, Lynne, who can talk the hind leg off a donkey, perched next to me next to me. We are both mulit -tasking and making and receiving phone calls. Lynn does not sugar coat things. We’ve had a solid talk fest since meeting for lunch and a spa session yesterday. She spoiled me and it was very strange to be on the receiving end of such a grand gesture. We hit the ground running most of the subject matter was sharing stories from the 90’s, and the roles we both played in the early days of the Internet, and deep and confronting chats about our childhoods. We are similar kinds of broken and can breathe easy in each other’s undeniably frenetic company.

This week I have been covered in cuddles from some my tribe of glorious goddesses, laughed till my face hurts, had sessions of carpool karaoke (Canadian Content), cried for the fragile inner child we are all trying to heal, and realised, once again, that we are all shoveling vast and varied piles of shit with huge Vaseline grins on our faces. We were told as little people to smile and the world would smile with us, and that is exactly what most of us are doing, despite demons that dwell beneath our shiny exteriors.

We talked for a bit about the Brene Brown revolution, encouraging people to embrace their faults and insecurity. I’ve worn my ugly and shared my struggles openly for years. While it makes me incredibly vulnerable, puts my friends at ease. Most of them choose a slightly shinier veneer, and save spilling their spicy for close conversations, yet we all know that the world is full of the walking wounded. Nobody gets out of life unscathed, and there’s a magic to meeting people who can relate to and share the stories of their scars.

I have no idea why women so often feel inadequate. It seems that my closest friends all suffer from crippling imposter’s syndrome, despite epic accomplishments in their personal and professional lives.  

Lynne’s been blown away by the strength and kindness of the kindred spirits she’s met here in Auckland. We are all Wonder Woman, most of us mothers, and all of us take it in turn to act as cheerleaders or a safe place to land for each other when shit gets real.

And now, I am on my way to Field Days with my amazing and energetic EA. We are going to go smash it at Field Days. Hayley, another of the goddess tribe, has been working with me for a few short months, and acts as a buffer between breakdowns and enables me to be a baller. She displays the same self-doubt as all the other brilliant and broken beauties I am blessed to know. Juggling a farm, a toddler, and an endless list of organizing and actively having my back, she regularly feels like she’s not doing enough, despite moving mountains every single week.

WHY do most of the women I worship feel defective? Why do we strive to the breaking point to prove to ourselves and the world we are worthy?  Why can we so readily show Love and support for each other while negative internal dialogues rage on in our heads and hearts?  How do we start cutting ourselves the slack we give each other when we’re lending an ear or a shoulder during crisis?  Why do snarky comments or unkind criticisms seem to stick so readily, while the good stuff and supportive sentiment so often slide off?

I have no idea, but am certain I am grateful beyond measure for the women in my world.